Meet Deon Hinton, photographer behind our Pride campaign

Pride Meet Deon Hinton, photographer behind our Pride campaign

The more cameras we place in queer hands documenting experiences, the more pens we provide those writing the history of who are.

Deonderick “Deon” Hinton is an artist, dreamer and visual poet. Through stills, videos, words and creative direction between all three, he composes deep, softly emoted narratives that are rife with beauty and sensitivity. And, importantly: He shines a caring and understanding light on queer communities. Based in New York, Hinton collaborated with W Hotels to lens our Pride 2023 campaign–he has also worked with Dior, Fendi, Margiela, Byredo and many more. Below, he answers a few of our questions–and conveys, throughout, that what he does is a “visual representation of freedom, and that anything is possible.”

Courtesy of Deon Hinton

What does W Hotels’ Pride Manifesto mean to you? What was the strongest impression it left?


DH: For me, W Hotels’ Pride Manifesto is a form of a beautiful declaration. It takes many shapes within our community in terms of liberation, queer visibility and potential.



When you travel, what consistently catches your attention? What stands out, no matter where you are?


DH: One thing that catches my attention when I am traveling is the beautiful commonality of being human. Ever though we’re all so vast in our backgrounds, upbringings, discoveries, and lessons, we are so much alike than we may believe. There’s beauty in our differences, but there’s grace in our unity.



How has sexuality and identity influenced your approach to photography? 


DH: I grew up never seeing queerness shown in the media, or spoken about in a light and loving way. I never had any association with or exposure to a healthy queer experience. So, I choose to retell and rewrite the stories that my younger self needed to see and read. I choose to share the depths of queerness, and the softness in our power.



Courtesy of Deon Hinton

Can you describe a particularly memorable creative project you did while traveling? How did your surroundings inspire your work?


DH: I would for sure say a promotional project I shot for Maison Margiela. I flew out to California and I had the honor of shooting it alongside two friends on a small beach, past Santa Monica, at sunrise. Apart from me having deep yearning to create by the water, being surrounded by my small community and making one of my proudest works means so much to me. This project allowed me to see what it looks like to actualize an idea fully, and have a full team behind you execute it.



How do you balance the desire to capture authentic moments with the responsibility to protect the privacy and safety of your subjects, especially when considering that some viewers may be less accepting of identities that aren’t their own?


DH: I never capture those with the intent to belittle or to cause discomfort. I merely have a responsibility to document the world in this way–and of course, this is done respectfully. I often capture the backs of subjects’ heads as I adore the story that body language can tell.

Courtesy of Deon Hinton

How do you see the role of photography in furthering LGBTQ+ visibility and representation, both within the community and in wider society?


DH: The more cameras we place in queer hands documenting experiences, the more pens we provide those writing the history of who we are.



How do you stay inspired and motivated to continue creating new work, especially when faced with difficult or discouraging circumstances?


DH: Not every day is an “inspiring” one. Sometimes, this step back helps, in a way. When a day isn’t inspiring, it gives you an appreciation for being present, and it permits you to remember the factors that motivated you to begin with.



What do you do during your downtime? What are your other interests?


DH: During downtown, I am studying my craft. I also love being active. I’m picking up tennis. And I’m revisiting my love for running, via my track and field past.



Within W Hotels’ network, what’s a dream destination for you to visit? Why?


DH: I would have to say Japan for sure. I’ve been once before on such a short trip and despite the amount of travel I’ve been blessed to experience, it is truly a place that I have never been able to shake from my core memory. I just adored my time there, even if it was under 24 hours. I’d love to go back someday for sure.



The manifesto starts with the phrase “I stand.” What do you stand for–personally, creatively, combined?


DH: I stand for acceptance. For acceptance of who we’ve always been and the endless potential that resides beyond our eyes.